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Niskayuna parents notified after school employee's laptop stolen

Niskayuna parents notified after school employee's laptop stolen

Superintendent: Computer likely taken for value of device, not data
Niskayuna parents notified after school employee's laptop stolen
Photographer: Shutterstock

NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna Central School officials mailed notices to the homes of 645 current and 300 former students this week, after a school psychologist’s laptop was stolen out of a locked car.

District officials said that — due to the nature of the theft and the information contained on the computer -- there is a low risk of identity theft or fraud.

“To a certain extent, we’re going above and beyond,” said Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr. “There were no Social Security numbers, financial documents or driver’s license numbers on the laptop.”

He went on to say information on the password-protected device did include names, addresses and dates of birth. Student information on the laptop dates to 2012.

“Transparency is a big deal,” Tangorra Jr. said. “We notified families, but there is little risk that someone is impacted.”

The psychologist -- whom the district would not identify -- noticed the window of her car was broken and the bag containing the laptop was missing on April 17 and immediately reported it to both police and the school superintendent. The superintendent then contacted the district’s general liability insurance carrier, Utica National, of Albany. Utica National connected district officials with CyberScout, a company that consulted with the district to assess the risk for identity theft.

The risk was deemed to be low, but letters notifying families of the theft were nevertheless sent out. The letters explain the risk level to students’ identities, lay out the precautions parents and guardians may take, including phone numbers and websites for credit agencies and the Federal Trade Commission. 

The district has also set up an email address where concerned families may reach out for more information. 

Tangorra Jr. said he does not believe there were any confidential or clinical notes on the stolen device. He said the data may include grades or test scores, but he reiterated that the information was most likely demographic.

“It appears the laptop was stolen for the device, not the material on the laptop,” Tangorra Jr. said.

In total he estimated that more than 400 district employees have district-issued laptops. He also said this is the first time something like this has happened in the district during his tenure.

Going forward, the district will look at changing or implementing new policies or procedures, including professional development and evaluating security measures, but there was no plan to take immediate or disciplinary action.

“When something like this happens, we look to figure out how to mitigate risk and respond appropriately,” said Tangorra Jr. 

Affected families are encouraged to email the district at [email protected] with any questions.

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